The Readings: Joshua 23:1-16; Romans 15:25-33; Matthew 27:11-23
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company” (15:30-32).
“Earnest prayer” is perhaps an understatement. This is the visit to Jerusalem in which Paul is seized in the temple, taken into Roman custody, subjected to various inconclusive hearings—until his appeal to Caesar results in his finally reaching Rome. That long sequence of events (Acts 21:17-28:31) started with Paul putting into practice “Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor” (Rom 15:2), building/repairing bridges with the Torah-observant Christians. Paul has a notable ability to send many of us up the wall, but there’s no question that, as the saying goes, he both talked the talk and walked the walk.
Looking further ahead:
“But now, with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while” (15:23-24). Dunn notices of the verb translated “to be sent on by you” that “In earliest Christianity it becomes almost a technical term for the provision made by a church for missionary support.” Even though he’s had no prior contact with these folk, Paul apparently judges he has more to gain than lose by giving them a heads-up that he’s going to be looking for funding.